Missing Cucumber Plant: My Tried, It Died Garden Moment

By Nikki Tilley | July 14, 2022
Image by Garsya
by Nikki Tilley
July 14, 2022

Every year in the garden is different. Some years are better than others, but even during the greatest of seasons there’s usually at least one challenging plant or issue that pops up. This is at least true for me, and I’m a fairly seasoned gardener with about 30 years under my belt. 

It’s Always Something!

One of the things I pride myself on is the wildlife garden. It gives me great pleasure to know that I’m helping out our native wildlife while growing a reasonably healthy and sustainable garden. Every living thing plays a special role, even if, on occasion, they leave the confines of their garden space and visit other areas of my landscape. It’s to be expected, right? 

I don’t mind these visits. In fact, it allows me to enjoy their antics and behaviors up close, during the day anyway. I have a camera in the wildlife area which catches their nighttime visits, but I think it’s time to add another one near the house. It seems this year I’ve encountered my seasonal issue rather early – June at the time of this writing. The weather here in NC has already shot past the 90-degree F. (32 C.) mark. With the humidity factored in, our heat index has hit well into the 100s. Never mind how unbearable this is to me, but the plants aren’t taking to it favorably. The wildlife is still on the fence about it. I assumed this would be that “always something.” The early heat began in April followed by unseasonably cooler conditions and then back to hot again. Many plants responded with stunted growth, earlier flowering and smaller blooms. That’s okay, though. They’re still pretty. Alas, this turns out not to be my most concerning issue.

It is the vegetable garden I’m worried about. At first, I lost my squash plants to the cold snap. We have a relatively long growing season so I quickly planted more. So far, so good (knock on wood). I’ve had to “replant” a few other veggies and flowers thanks to Mr. Pepe Le Pew. It’s the first time our resident skunk has ventured outside his boundaries and into other garden areas. Cute as he may be, his undeniable stench and rooting has, just for a minute, made me rethink things. But he’s just in search of grubs and other tasty protein treats. I did just add a new section near the wildlife area, and I’m sure the freshly turned spring soil in both the veggie and greenhouse garden beds is appealing. Hence, it’s to be expected. This is not my “always something” either. 

Missing Cucumber Plant

Nope, I’ve determined that my “I tried, it died garden issue” is the cucumbers. They were doing great! Perfect, in fact. And then I lost one, and then another – likely weather related. That’s fine, I thought. I still have a one more baby cucumber plant and we don’t require much. It’s just my husband and me. They’re prolific producers so you can still get a good harvest from one plant. I have time to start more and get some later. No biggie. Until, of course, upon going out to water the garden, I noticed my beautiful baby cucumber plant (the sole survivor) was gone. Like no evidence of its existence – no leaves, no stump of growth, just gone! What is happening here? I look a little closer and see some pieces of coir sticking up from the soil. I have a nearby coconut coir pot. I gave it a tug and, lo and behold, this huge pile of coir comes out like some bird has been hoarding it away or something. This stuff was buried about 6 inches (15 cm.) deep right underneath where my baby cucumber plant once grew. Just what the heck? There was prime real estate right next to it. I would have gladly rented the space.

As I continued pulling this stuff out of the soil, I found my missing cucumber plant buried beneath, ragged and dry looking but still intact. I cleaned it off and put it in a small jar of water, hoping I can replant it. Not sure if it will work, but I have to try. Who is responsible or why my cucumber is a mystery, although after some research I’ve determined the most likely culprit is one of the new bunnies. Apparently, they will often nest in rather strange places, and sometimes directly under plants. I would never have imagined one would choose a large container but whatever. Fingers crossed that my “always something” garden fiasco takes a turn for the better. In the meantime, I’ll still enjoy the wildlife.

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